According to Patricia Evan’s in The Verbally Abusive Relationship, There are 15 different types of verbal abuse:
Purchase her book here: http://www.patriciaevans.com/
**I will add types 6-10 and 11-15 in later posts**
I always thought that a relationship should be honest and authentic. I thought that each person would endeavor to make themselves known as well as get to know the heart of their partner. Boy, was I surprised to find out that my abuser had no intention of allowing me to get to know him nor was he interested in honoring me by understanding who I was.
Abusive Withholding happens when the abuser chooses to ‘disconnect’ from the relationship as a way of controlling the relational situation. Does he ignore you? Does he pretend not to hear you? Does he refuse to communicate with you fairly and honestly? Do you find out vital information from others instead of directly from him? Is he withholding intimacy in your relationship? Does he refuse to allow you to initiate sex? Or initiate a conversation?
If you can answer ‘YES’ to any of these, then you may be verbally abused.
It seemed to me like I could never ‘win’ an argument. It also occurred to me that I shouldn’t want to ‘win’ an argument but want to reach a mutually acceptable solution in my relationship. Unfortunately, arguing with him was like walking into a verbal spear fight. No matter what I said, how I said it, where I said it, to whom I said it or what opinion I had, what facts I knew…I was wrong and he was right.
Do you feel that no matter what your position he’ll counter you with the exact opposite? Even if he agreed on that point yesterday, he’ll disagree today just to be able to make you look like the stupid one? I used to use my grandmothers saying “I can’t win for losing”…
If you answer ‘YES‘ to any of these, then you may be verbally abused.
I have found this happens a lot since I got out of my abusive relationship. Many people discount my ideas, thoughts, and conversations regarding abuse because I have been abused. This makes no sense to me since, being the one who experienced it, you’d think they’d see me as more of an expert? But no, instead, I am accused of being too sensitive and seeing abuse around every corner or trying to see abuse where there is none. Since they can’t believe that my experience was really ‘that bad’, then my perception of reality is questioned and this calls into question my mental stability.
In my relationship, he would often call my mental stability into question by making statements about me like ‘you take things too seriously’ or ‘you’re overly sensitive’ or ‘you just think you know everything don’t you?’. Conversely, he’d also say things like ‘Why can’t you be serious about this?’ or ‘Do you have to complain about everything?’ or ‘why do you always try to pick a fight?’. The most hated comment from my abuser was ‘You aren’t a dad so you can’t tell me how to father.” (in response to helping him learn anything to do with baby care…regardless that I have a thousand times more experience with kids and my degree in early childhood education)
Do you feel like no matter what, your thoughts, ideas, and opinions are cast aside and kicked to the curb? Do you struggle with wondering how you lost your competence in areas that you used to excel at? Do you wonder how you could be so wrong all the time?
If you answer ‘YES’ to any of these, then you may be verbally abused.
4. Verbal abuse disguised as jokes.
My ex would make jokes about me. On a regular basis, he’d make funny comments about how horrible my cooking was. This led to my children not wanting to eat any of my food and to this day I hate cooking. Of course, when I asked him to stop making those comments, his response was “oh, you just can’t take a joke”. Apparently, continuing to joke about my cooking was the way to cure my lack of humor.
Another way he’d joke about me was when I was pregnant with his children. Every time, I’d bend over or back up he’d beep like a semi-truck. That was hilarious, I guess I should have laughed. When I asked him to stop and explained that I already felt like a whale, he laughed and started making whale sounds! He completely ignored my hurt and refused to acknowledge my feelings.
Another thing he liked to do was to come behind me and pin my arms against my side so I couldn’t move. Of course, he was military trained and stronger than me. I’d squirm and beg him to let me go. He’d whisper in my hear that he could do anything he liked to me. When I became scared of him he’d laugh and let go and tell me I took things too seriously. Didn’t I trust him not to hurt me?
When he says “You can’t take a joke!”, but that joke cut deeply into your heart he is essentially saying that your feelings don’t matter. He is also stating that his right to joke about you personally is more important to him then your hurt feelings. He can make a point like my ex did when he pinned me down. I knew he could control my physical body, I didn’t miss the point that he could hurt me if he wanted to but he’d get out of being held responsible for this message by claiming humor.
Does your partner hurt you and call it funny? Does he use jokes to make a point? Are you unable to call him out because everything he says is just meant to be a joke? Does he show he doesn’t care about your feelings by continuing to joke rudely about you?
If you answered ‘YES’ to any of these, you may be verbally abused.
5. Blocking and Diverting.
My ex would often use the topic of the kids to block and divert me. I remember one time we went shopping about an hour and a half away from home. Our daughter was a toddler at the time. We shopped until about 1pm and then he said it was time to head home. Our daughter started to fuss because she was hungry and I requested that we stop at a fast food place to feed her. His immediate response was “She ate breakfast didn’t she?” As I was attempting to explain that she did eat breakfast but it was lunch time and babies need to eat more often than every 5 hours, he diverted me by asking why I didn’t pack enough snacks to get her home! He made the drive home refusing to stop by causing the argument in the first place.
Do you often feel like your conversation just took an unexpected nosedive? Do you struggle to keep your partner on track with the topic? Does he twist a conversation around so badly that you are left feeling blindsided? Does he use words to prevent you from expressing yourself (blocking) or use words to completely change the subject (diverting)?
If you said ‘YES‘ to any of these, you may be verbally abused.
I found, that the more I was subject to verbal abuse from my ex, the more chaotic my brain became. It’s like his manipulations caused my brain function to melt. I felt like I was walking through a mud bog, at night, without direction or light. When I had my ‘AHHA’ moment of realization that I was being abused I put myself on a path to learn as much about abuse as I could. The very first book I read on the subject was Patricia Evan’s book “The Verbally Abusive Relationship”. It was a life saver for me emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.
I was so afraid and yet so empowered to learn about what I was living through. It was those steps toward understanding that finally set me free. I was worried that I would break some sort of Biblical command if I began to stand against the abuse in my relationship. It took time but I soon realized that throughout the Bible, it is clear that God does not condone or excuse abuse.
Through my journey, I learned that the Bible instructs us to be wise as serpents and at the same be as gentle as doves. (Matt 10:16) We are also to guard our hearts which means, in part, to protect ourselves from harm physically and emotionally. (Prov 4: 23) By having knowledge of verbal abuse and manipulation, you will be better armed to recognize, deal with and guard against the tactics of verbal abusers. God never intends for anyone to be verbally harmed by others. Verbal abuse goes directly against the Biblical mandate to love others as yourself. Don’t be afraid to judge the words and actions of those who might harm you as your body and mind are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19)
I am no longer afraid to face abuse and call it out for what it is. I no longer worry that was sinning by leaving my abusive marriage. I am at total peace, knowing beyond any doubt that Gods will for me and for all his people is love and love is not found in an abusive relationship.
I pray that your journey will bring you to freedom and safety!
Please come back for the next post to help you recognize more types of verbal abuse.